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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: E-Publish and Be Damned! by Ruth Barringham

As some of you will know, Ruth Barringham is an Australia-based freelance writer and publisher.

Ruth was also my co-author on The Wealthy Writer, a downloadable guide to making money writing for online markets that we wrote a couple of years ago.

Ruth recently released a new e-book for writers, the full title of which is E-Publish and Be Damned! How You Can Make a Million Writing Your Own E-Books. It's quite inexpensive - just $8 or around 5 UK pounds at the time of writing - so I decided to buy a copy myself to see what I thought of it.

E-Publish and Be Damned! is a 62-page downloadable PDF, which Ruth is selling via the self-publishing platform E-Junkie. Purchasing and downloading my copy was straightforward enough.

The manual is divided into around 40 short chapters or sections. Each section is hyperlinked from the table of contents at the front, which is something I always like to see.

The greater part of the guide is about publishing a Kindle e-book. That is quite understandable, considering this is where the biggest market for e-books lies right now. Ruth talks about the types of book which sell well on Kindle, and takes you through such matters as correctly formatting your e-book, publishing using the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) website, pricing and royalties, and so on.

Ruth does also cover other e-book platforms such as Lulu.com and publishing your e-book as a PDF, albeit not in as much detail.

Marketing is discussed in depth, and the manual concludes with a seven-step action plan for building your self-publishing empire and becoming an e-book millionaire (if only!).

Ruth has quite a distinctive style, where she regularly talks about her own experiences to illustrate points she is making. Often she takes the opportunity to recommend resources she has found helpful herself. Here is an extract where she is talking about creating cover images, for example...
If you've never designed your own book cover before, then you might want to get someone else to do it for you.

You can search online to find a professional book cover designer and they will do an outstanding job for you. The downside is that they'll probably charge you around $300.

You can hire a freelance designer from Elance.com. This is a job auction site where freelancers bid for jobs and say how much they'll charge you. But you can also state exactly how much you're willing to pay.

I've used Elance quite a few times for different jobs and have so far been very pleased with the high standard of work that was done for me.

You could also try fiverr.com, freelance.com or guru.com. But when I need an ebook cover, I use Buddy. I don't know Buddy personally at all but I always use him for my ebook covers. I simply tell him what I want and he creates a cover and emails it to me within 2 or 3 days. He's very fast and very good. He even provides royalty-free images for the covers.

He designed the cover of this ebook too. I simply gave him these instructions - "I want the cover to be mostly maroon (deep red) and to convey the feeling of how easy it is to write books and get them published. An image of someone working as a book writer, perhaps?"

All I gave him to work with were those two sentences and the title and subtitle of the book.

Two days later he emailed the covers to me. One 3D paperback image and a flat rectangle.

Buddy charges $27 (at time of writing) payable through PayPal. He offers a choice of two 3D cover formats so choose one from his range (paperback, hardback, box, etc) and ask for the second one to be left as a flat rectangle, because Amazon only wants a flat rectangular image. The other 3D image can be used for marketing on your own website.
It's the personal tips like this scattered throughout the manual that make it so useful in my view (and yes, she does give Buddy's contact details as well!). E-Publish and Be Damned may not be as comprehensive as my own Kindle Kash course or Geoff Shaw's encyclopedic Kindling, but there is more than enough valuable (and hard-won) information to justify the modest asking price.

I also found the tone upbeat and inspirational. Ruth has a real "can do" attitude - due to her Aussie background maybe! - and by the time you have finished reading this guide, I defy you not to want to get started straight away on writing an e-book of your own.

Do I have any criticisms? Well, only minor ones. One is that I would like to have seen a few more illustrations. As it stands, the manual is almost entirely text. Ruth's style, with plenty of short, snappy sentences and paragraphs, ensures that it is by no means an effort to read. Still, I can't help feeling that a few screengrabs (for example) would have helped things along considerably..

I did also find the odd comment that I disagreed with, e.g. her assertion that puzzle books are unsuitable for Kindle. I'm sure my colleague Rosa Suen (whose Kindle Hot Niche guide about creating word-search puzzles for Kindle I reviewed a while ago) would disagree with her about this!

Still, these are relatively minor quibbles. If you're interested in e-book writing and publishing, I have no doubt that E-Publish and Be Damned! will prove a great-value investment for you.

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